Tokyo Paralympics: How Jonathan Gore turned a tragic accident into sprint glory
After a lawnmower cut Jonathan Gore's Olympic dreams short, he was inspired to turn to Paralympics with a bit of help from Jarryd Wallace
Like most young athletes, Jonathan Gore too had dreams of representing the US at the Olympics. It wasn't just a dream though, Gore had a highly successful track-and-field career while at university, bringing him close to Olympic glory. Unfortunately, though, fate had other plans and Gore was left without his lower left leg. It didn't stop him from seeking glory, and he is now set to represent Team USA at the Tokyo Paralympics.
After the highly successful Tokyo Olympics, it is now time for the para-athletes to shine. Ahead of the Paralympic Games on August 24, we thought it would be apt to shine a spotlight on some of the names who've beaten the odds to represent Team USA. Earlier, we told you about Discus star David Blair, who proved his doctors wrong to clinch Gold at Rio in 2016. We also covered swimmer Becca Meyers, who pulled out of the games after her carer wasn't allowed to travel with her due to Covid-19.
In July, we also covered the inspiring tale of British Paralympian Olivia Breen, who won bronze in at the London 2012 games despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Now, we would like to shine the spotlight on Gore, whose Olympic dreams shattered after an accident at work. Here's how he overcame the odds and ran his way to the Tokyo Games when he could have easily looked the other way.
The inspiring story of Jonathan Gore
A West Virginia native, Gore has been a sprinter since childhood. In middle school, he decided to get serious after his mother was roped in to coach at Fayetteville High School. Since then, Gore blossomed into a promising young athlete who also ran at Concorde University, where he was studying social work. Gore graduated in 2017 with his bachelor's degree but believed he wouldn't get any further. "I was already content knowing that I wouldn't compete," he told The Fayette Tribune.
In 2018, he was working on a lawnmower when it cut his heel off. "I went to the hospital and they said they could reconstruct my foot again, but I would never be able to walk or function as normal," he said in an interview with WVVA. He then made an incredibly difficult decision - Gore told the doctors to cut off the lower part of his foot. That was made in part thanks to a "divine revelation" that Gore would be able to run - with some help from a prosthesis. It also helped that he "never had a 'depression period'," after hospitalization.
In March of 2019, Gore came across a video of para-athlete Jarryd Wallace. "So I looked him up on Instagram and I introduced myself to him." It was that text that helped Gore represent Team USA in Tokyo. "He helped me and my prosthetist understand how my blade worked and how it should fit, so I could run at my full potential," Gore said. In June 2019, Gore got a Cheetah blade and began training. All that effort paid off, as Gore cracked the Paralympic trials and managed to secure a spot on Team USA.
"I could have let this injury break me, but God got me through it," Gore said. "I just got to the point where I was just like 'forget the goals. I'm just going to go race' and then everything else will fall in line." It clearly did, with Gore ranking second nationally in the men’s 200-meter among runners with lower leg amputations. In 2020, he set his own record of 23 seconds in 200m and has a career-best timing of 10.95 seconds in 100m.
The 26-year-old has also found a successful balance off the field. Apart from being a para-athlete, he is also a graduate assistant track and field coach at Concord. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in health promotion from the university as well. In a 2020 interview, Gore said one item on his bucket list was to "sprint in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo." Come August 25, that's another thing he can tick off.